THERE’S AN AUTUMN nip in the air tonight and the trees are definitely a-changing. I’ve been spending a deal of time in the last couple of weeks with the many, many people, individually and corporately, who play out a thousand different roles in the life and ministry of our parish. The September-Start-Of-Term feeling always reminds me of just how many people are involved. Christianity must be one of the world’s biggest roadshows!

I’m also reminded of the fragility of human life and of the need to be gentle in our discipling (our learning, caring and teaching) – with others, certainly, but also with ourselves. Many of our people are afflicted with illness or pain of one kind or another at present – some of them in key positions of leadership and the pastoral care of others. I’m humbled and frequently touched by their willingness to be faithful to their calling and responsibilities even in times when they themselves could do with a bit of sympathy and loving care. And I see as one of my most important roles a need to encourage time for quietness, reflection, “space”, and prayer.

Neither world nor parish ever knows a day when the various ministries of care are not needed. The work is never done and the needs enormous. So the more the merrier. The more we all learn to care for (and be cared for by) the people closest to us, the less overly-burdensome responsibility for the sometimes overstretched few. I’ve always loved that Autumn reminds me of the fragility of life, of changing hues and colours – of dying to what has been in order that the way might be paved for what is to be. My Autumn prayer is for ways of gentleness, and paths of peace. And healing.